Personal Development

3 Steps to Pass Your Real Estate License Exam on the First Attempt

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I recently completed the Virginia real estate pre-licensing course. It may come as a surprise, but more than one test is needed to become a licensed agent. One test is to needed to pass the pre-licensing course. A second needs to be passed to legally practice real estate. 

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I passed both tests on the first attempt — and you can, too!

I wish I could say the test was easy and that anyone can go out and do it. It’s not. The good news is, a commitment to basic fundamentals will bring you success not only in your licensing test, but in your personal and business life as well. Remember, what you do with the small things will carry over to the big things.

3 Tips to Help You Pass Your Real Estate License Exam on the First Attempt

The fundamentals that I speak of are:

Make a commitment and put in the work.

I have witnessed so many individuals display a casual attitude towards their goals and dreams. Anyone who really wants to master a craft cannot display a casual attitude towards anything. We are either in or out. Choose a side right now.

The Virginia pre-licensing course was 60 hours, but that is the minimum the state requires. This will most likely not be enough to accomplish the pass on the first attempt. Whatever the minimum hours your state requires – triple it!

Establish the habit of committing to, and doing more work than the minimum required.


Related: How to Become a Real Estate Agent: The Ultimate Guide

Practice patience to improve attention to detail.

Even though I practice improving patience every day to a master Yoda-like level, I continue to find situations in which my patience and attention to detail are lacking.

During my course, one of the biggest problems I identified was I was not reading the test questions completely. I would read half, an answer would pop into my head, and I would select it — only to find out at the end of the test that it was wrong because of one or two words at the end of the question had changed what the answer should be.

It took discipline to instill the habit of reading the entire question and then every possible answer in its entirety before selecting the choice I felt was right. This one action boosted my scores from the 75-80% range to over 90% consistently on practice exams.


Related: Investors: Think Real Estate Agents are Useless for Finding Great Deals? Consider THIS.

Don’t overload the brain.

Wanting to arrive at the destination fast is very common, and it can be your downfall. When I purchased my course, I could not wait to get in, so I could finish as fast as possible. As I completed the lessons so quickly, I realized I could not remember some key material from earlier lessons when quizzed.

It was at that moment I made the decision to limit the number of lessons I allowed my brain to consume in one day. I used the extra time to contemplate what I had learned that day. I organized my notes and read them over and over again. This quadrupled the knowledge retained by my brain. (Quadrupled? I can’t say for certain, but you get the point!) Let me know if it works for you.

These tips may seem simple, but it is usually the simple things that we all overlook. These three steps were fundamental to passing a test that has around a 40% first-time rate. Out of the 11 individuals that I tested with, only 6 passed. The time to get serious is now, not on test day.

If you are thinking about becoming a licensed agent or getting prepared to take your licensing exam, I wish you luck. I am here for you. Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have. The only dumb question is one that is not asked.

Are you preparing for the real estate license exam? How are you studying? Or if you’ve already passed it, what advice would you give?

Let’s talk in the comments section below!

Brandon is a U.S. Army veteran, serial entrepreneur, and real estate investor who helps others improve their life through writing for online publications such as "Bigger Pockets" and "The Good Men Project" Find out more about Brandon on his website

    Curt Smith Rental Property Investor from Clarkston, GA
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Tnx Brandon, As an IT guy, I’ve taken lots of “certifications” exams. Same question wording problems. My #1 tip to pass is: – read, study and take practice exams as suggested. – Schedule your real exam on Monday AM first thing. – Review and practice over a weekend to early Sun evening. – then sleep well and take the test Monday Am. What I found is you are working against a leaky brain. Stuff it all in over a weekend and test on Monday before it all leaks out. 🙂
    Brandon L. Real Estate Agent from Falls Church
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Curt, you are absolutely right. I am happy taking the practice tests constantly kept my bucket full before the test haha. Hope you have a great night, and thanks for taking the time to comment.
    Don Kovacs
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Three suggestions, one is easy, the other is work and the last is testing. First, in the exam, put your pencil on the deck away from you. You can’t pick it up until you read the whole question. This slows you down. Second involves index cards. Write the question obviously on one side and the answers on the other. This takes work. How the secret to how to use the index cards. Read the answer side of the card. Now say the question. Let’s say your test is 90 questions and you need 70% to pass. That means 63 correct. Go through the test and only answer those questions that you know. Ice cold know. Let’s say you have 48 ice cold. You need 15 more. Go back and read the unanswered questions. You might get clues from others on the test that you can use now. Let say you get 10 more. You are at 58 needing 5 more. Again go through the questions. Now start to strike out answers. You might get more questions that you are confident of and get those missing five. I am in Californis and took the Nevada broker and law tests this way. No knowledge of Nevada practices, classroom etc. Got mid 90 scores. Study, study, study.
    Brandon L. Real Estate Agent from Falls Church
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Thanks for taking the time to comment Don. Hope you have a great night 🙂
    Curt Smith Rental Property Investor from Clarkston, GA
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Currious, given buying practice tests, even classroom training then the cost of tests. What is the low and the typical costs to get an agents license? Guess it might vary per state…
    Brandon L. Real Estate Agent from Falls Church
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Curt, In my case the all in price is close to 3k if I don’t factor in a value for my time. This may seem like a lot to most, but I know I will get the return on investment because I am committed to putting in the work to be successful. Most just want to become an agent to “access the MLS” or because they think it will be easy money. I also feel that attitude contributes to the over 80% wash out rate.
    Erin Korniyenko Real Estate Agent from Panama City, Florida
    Replied about 3 years ago
    What are the books/tools you used that you found most useful? Where did you find practice exams/questions? Thank you!
    Brandon L. Real Estate Agent from Falls Church
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Erin, I found that the electronic PSI practice exams provided with my Kaplan pre-licensing course were the best help for me. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and if you have any other questions feel free to reach out 🙂
    Yolanda Dean Flipper/Rehabber from Richmond, TX
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great article. This post and responses have helped me for I’m in the process getting my RELicense. Thanks!
    Brandon L. Real Estate Agent from Falls Church
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Glad you found the article helpful, and thanks for taking to read and comment Yolanda! I hope you are having a great thanksgiving. If you need anything do not hesitate to reach out 🙂